Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Persistence of Memory

My nephew lives with my sister and brother-in-law four houses down. He's one and a half, and his vocabulary that I've heard so far consists of two one-syllable words—one of which sounds like "dog" and one of which sounds like "car"—and two two-syllable words, "mama" and "uh-pah." This last one can variously mean "iPod," "apricot," or "Uncle Paul."

I am mowing the lawn on Memorial Day. Down the street, Sister, Brother-In-Law, and Nephew are in the front yard, putting up a new fence. Look Nephew, says Sister, there is Uncle Paul. She points at me. Nephew turns and looks and sees Uncle Paul, far away down the street. Uncle Paul sees Sister and Nephew and waves. Nephew, for whom it is a very new thing, waves back at Uncle Paul, who is far away.

Uncle Paul thinks, Nephew is but one and a half—what if this is the first memory of me that Nephew retains? What if this picture—Uncle Paul is a person who is down the street and waves, is his developmental and foundational picture of me? What if every subsequent memory he has of me is built on top of this Ur-memory, so that no matter what experiences he has of me the rest of our lives, when he calls up the mental model of me from his brain, the most fundamental, inescapable, primordial part of it will be this one, first, experience? There is Uncle Paul. Uncle Paul is far away.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's My Birthday Too, Yeah

There's nothing particularly noteworthy about turning 34, save that I can now say that I outlived Jesus (in your face, Jesus). There's not even any interesting numerology. Two years ago when I turned 25 on 5/25/2005, now that was cool. But it's pretty much downhill from there.

In the year after turning 16 my brain underwent one more set of (I assume developmental) changes, and then after that it just stopped, such that today I still feel like a teenager, it's just that I hold a job and own a house and walk around in a 34 year-old's body. At some point after that I realized why people get so freaked out turning 30, then turning 40, and so on. The internal them stops getting older while their outside face, and the outside world, just keeps on keeping on.

It's the little secret of the world, that it's entirely populated and run by 16 year olds; 16 year olds who are still caught up with who likes whom, who's popular and who isn't; we hurt and do hurt to each other like 16 year olds. It looks different, sure, but it's only because we don't have those faces any longer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Further Thoughts on Joss Freaking Whedon

I try to think how we got here. The theory I developed in college (shared by many I’m sure) is one I have yet to beat: Womb Envy. Biology: women are generally smaller and weaker than men. But they’re also much tougher. Put simply, men are strong enough to overpower a woman and propagate. Women are tough enough to have and nurture children, with or without the aid of a man. Oh, and they’ve also got the equipment to do that, to be part of the life cycle, to create and bond in a way no man ever really will. Somewhere a long time ago a bunch of men got together and said, “If all we do is hunt and gather, let’s make hunting and gathering the awesomest achievement, and let’s make childbirth kinda weak and shameful.” (Source linked below)

Regular readers know that we here at OaO espouse a view of our biological and conscious selves that states that we have at the core a brain like any animal, a very intricate and complex stimulus-response machine, but that we also possess a highly evolved ability to post-hoc narrate that stimulus and response; id est you respond to your surroundings and situations in some way and then, some number of microseconds later, you make up a story about why you responded that way. Sometimes that story models the actions of stimulus and response quite well (I decide to go down to the cafeteria and eat french fries because I'm hungry and the guy in the office next door has french fries and they smell yummy...mmm...french fries), and sometimes it really, really doesn't.

Humans, in the words of Neal Stephenson, are stupendous badasses. But an inescapable fact of our evolution from carbon chain to stupendous badass is that we got here by being unimaginable bastards. Nature, red in tooth and claw, did things we probably don't want to hear about in order for our genes to make it to this point. Somewhere along the line a particular strain of genes thought it might try cooperating with other gene pools instead of brutally trying to wipe them out and see how that worked out, and lo and behold it worked out pretty well. But we're still animals, and the cutthroat bastardry that got us here remains in our genes.

Say you're a male of a mammalian species, and you one day realize that the only way that your genes are going to survive is to impregnate a female and make sure that the resulting offspring survives long enough to reproduce. Then you realize that, as far as reproduction is concerned, your role as a male begins and ends at fire-and-forget (God, I love that metaphor). The gears and wheels turn in your animal brain some more and you realize, "holy crap, after she's impregnated she could just go off and take my offspring and I'd never know what happened to it. Or worse, she could go off and get impregnated by somebody else at the same time and I'd end up protecting somebody else's genes. I have almost no control over this process. This simply won't do." And Bam! You've got womb envy. The terror of not having control over the most basic needs of your genes causes the red-in-truth-and-claw part of your brain to kick in--it sees that the female of the species is generally smaller and weaker and can be physically controlled and decides that anything it needs to do to re-assert that control must be done.

When this mammal is also human and is well practiced in post-hoc explanations for its behavior it feels, you know, a little bit awkward about just exerting brutal control over half the members of our species, so we need to come up with a narrative about why that's okay. Sometimes...actually, pretty much all the time...we wind up with religious dogma. We couch our unimaginable bastardry in some story about how it's written in a Very Important Book that someone somewhere said it brings dishonor to our family when a woman has sex with the wrong person, and therefore she must be killed (or when the religion stops working, we couch our bastardry in made up science that purports to prove what the purveyors of that science already take as a given).

I believe and hope that the tide that made individual bastardry a successful evolutionary strategy has long since turned, and that cooperation amongst a widely diverse gene pool is replacing it as the best strategy for long term survival. It's only that these things happen on a much longer time scale than any human will witness that forces us to continue to endure the unimaginable bastardry that we do to each other. And it's the fact that we exist in such an in-between state that we live with such twisted justifications for that bastardry as "Honor Killings."

I wish we'd evolve just a little quicker, though.

Joss Freaking Whedon

Joss Freaking Whedon!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Marginalia

First off, sorry about the mess. I realize my blog looks like complete ass right now, and would be an embarrassment even if I weren't someone who BUILDS USER INTERFACES FOR A LIVING, but...uh...nope, no, I got nothin'. It's bad. I will fix it soon.

UPDATE: I'm not convinced that this is much better, but I couldn't stand looking at it the way it was any longer. More changes sure to come./UPDATE

Second, the latest result of my cleanup work from my RPM Challenge album appears top left. It's your standard 80's New Wave rock song critiquing String Theory due to its untimeliness, and continues to herald my inexorable march away from alt-folkiness towards I have no earthly idea what.

On the topic of the RPM Challenge, apparently some fellow musician contacted Starbucks and got them interested in an Hear Music compilation of RPM artists, and I got an email this weekend that I was "nominated" (for some very loose definition of the term) to have a song on the/an album. This, as with all things that are both musical and make money, seems very very iffy to me, but who the hell knows.

Speaking of things in email this weekend, I also got a note from my old college friend Layne, to whom I hadn't spoken in years, and who now seems to be a food and travel writer living in Buenos Aires. This is, by far, the coolest thing that anybody I know is doing with their lives, so for starters I've added her blog Go Where the Taxista Takes You to the HBC. Read it and live vicariously.

Friday, May 18, 2007

You Just Get More

Any old amateur blogger can reprint for you some funny and ironic political quote that, by the time it appears, everyone has already seen on account of they, too, watch The Daily Show (you dumbshit). But here at The Odds Are One™, we give you more. We'll actually delve into the quote, go the extra mile, give you that extra insight that you just can't get anywhere else. We can offer this unique service because we sit around reading our own damn blog while we eat dinner--that's just how pathetic we are. Or else it's because of how much we care about you, the loyal reader. I'm sure it's one or the other.

Anyway we here at the Odds Are One™ are reading the A.G. quote below and it's suddenly struck us, why would he say that? I mean, that's really weird. That's like, mental short-circuit weird. It's Meta-Freudian-Slip reverse syllogism weird. Let us go over what we know: Gonzales is an intelligent man, and quite possibly in some metaphorical and/or non-metaphorical sense, Gonzales has sold his soul to a neo-religious ideology that, as most of them do, tells itself that its actions are for the good of the many when they are in fact good for the needs of only a very few. I'll come back to that in a moment, but one other thing we should take as an a priori is that Gonzales is in fact cognizant of the fact that the attorney firings are in the news and that he is aware that he's there in the House testifying about it.

Here's what I'm coming up with:

The Slip seems pretty straightforward: he's been rigorously coached, or coached himself, to repeat that there was absolutely nothing improper about the attorney firings. But he clearly also knows it isn't remotely true. His cheatin' heart will tell on him. His conscious mind isn't going to let anything slip through his mouth that betrays this fact, but his subconscious is just dying to let it out, and subconscious outwits the conscious by constructing a reverse logical syllogism that Alberto's forebrain can't quite parse in time to intercept the FTP packet his cranial nerves have sent to his mouth. "If there were a crime present the press would be reporting on it. So clearly there is no crime here, because if there were...oh...crap."

At the same time, this seems to clearly pinpoint his own internal ethical compass. Imagine the logistical nightmare that you'd have to engage with in your moral center in order to be where Gonzales is: "Sure, I'm an intelligent man and I've done a lot of things you wouldn't have liked to have done in the name of the ideology but I was doing it for the benefit of the party by getting more members of that party elected to office, which I owe to the party because people before me did what they had to do to get me where I am so I a lot of things I wouldn't have liked to have done...wait a minute, wasn't I just here?"

So he knows that he's doing something wrong here, but he tells himself it's not really wrong. If it were really morally wrong to fire attorneys for partisan gain/lie in front of Congress/Start A War That We Know To Be Wrong But Is For The Greater Good And Will Stabilize The Source Of Our Energy Needs For The Next Century Or Two And Will Hold Those Interests For Our Children And Our Children's Children So They Can Live In Peace And Security Even If The Rest Of The World Goes To Hell On Account Of Fuck Them...*ahem*, if doing any of that were really wrong, the Freedom of The Press, the great protector that is our Fourth Estate, would come to our rescue and report the truth, and the people would rise up against them. I'd aver he thinks this because he is a child of Watergate, but I'm just guessing. This must be the specific form his own personal cognitive dissonance is taking right at the moment he's speaking (or maybe this is just what's on his mind this month, or, you know, this career). "If what I am doing were wrong, the press would be reporting it and people would be demanding answers, but what I'm doing is not wrong and I know this I am again." In one sentence he's given you a perfect zen koan for his own personal mental state.
If in fact someone -- if a career investigator or prosecutors felt that we were making decisions for political reasons to interfere with a case, you'd probably hear about it.
Yeah, Al. You'd probably hear about it.

OaO Presents: They Actually Said That™*

And it would be pretty darn difficult, if not impossible, to make a decision for political reasons and expect to get away with it. If in fact someone -- if a career investigator or prosecutors felt that we were making decisions for political reasons to interfere with a case, you'd probably hear about it. We'd probably read about it in the papers.

-Alberto Gonzales, testifying in the House Of Representatives on May 10th. Transcript

*"They Actually Said That" is an utterly non-trademarked catchphrase about which The Odds Are One apparently harbors some feeble hope that...something...oh, fuck it.


Ah, you, writer of XKCD, with your minimalist line drawings and your nerdish, nerdish hilarity. How polished your humor, yet how jejeune your philosophy. Fear not, you too shall soon learn the precariousness of trying to model The Truth.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pitch To Contact

The Seattle Mariners went into spring training this past March with a new mantra from their pitching coaches: "Pitch to contact." They apparently had t-shirts made up, which, in case you were never in Glee Club in college and don't know this, is completely cheesy. The antithetical philosophy would be to try and strike out every batter a pitcher faces, and this indeed has some drawbacks--trying to strike a batter out in baseball will generally require more pitches, whereas if the batter puts the ball in play, he could conceivably get himself out with one pitch. Moreover, a strikeout pitcher might try to throw more finesse pitches that are harder to locate, and end up walking a lot of batsmen, which puts him in trouble in an inning, and forces him to throw a lot of so-called "stress pitches." A pitcher who racks up higher pitch counts will get tired sooner in the game, and so on and so forth.

There's also (seemingly) a statistical basis for this philosophy, too. Statistical analysis has shown that once a batter has put a pitched ball in play, the pitcher has little to no control over whether it becomes a hit or not. There's a statistic called Batting Average on Balls In Play which measures how successful batters are at reaching base safely once they've hit a pitch (assuming that it doesn't go over the fence for a home run, in which case there's usually nothing the defense can do). This number tends to sit in a range centering around about 30%, but has very little correlation from pitcher to pitcher and year to year--if a pitcher has a .280 BABIP one year, it's as likely to be .330 as .280 the next season (knuckleballer pitchers, such as Boston Red Sock Tim Wakefield, tend to be the exception to this rule of seasonal correlation, but that's another story). Sometimes a ground ball gets through the infield for a single and sometimes the shortstop gets it for an easy out, and this outcome has little to do with the pitcher and a lot to do with a) how much ground the defense behind him covers, and b) luck . So if a coaching staff knew (or thought) they had a good defensive team, pitching to contact would appear to make a lot of sense.

The Mariners apparently have a lot of written or unwritten philosophies like this. They coach their hitters to be aggressive, and look for a good pitch to hit early in the count. They also toyed, more last season than this, with being aggressive once they got on base, trying to go from first to third on a single, for instance.

In tonight's game, in the top of the first inning, Vladimir Guerrero came to bat against Mariner pitcher Jarrod Washburn with a runner on first base. Here is the book on pitching to Vladimir Guerrero: Under no circumstances should you pitch to Vladimir Guerrero. He can hit pretty much any pitch anywhere near the plate and hit it very hard. He is an extremely good hitter. If you were to, for some reason, ignore this information, and throw him hittable pitches, he would hit them. Hard. Pitching to contact against Vladimir Guerrero is a bad idea. It is bad. Bad. Bad bad bad. A better strategy would be to throw unhittable pitches far out of the strike zone and hope he swings at them or just walk him than, rather let him beat you with his bat. Vladimir Guerrero took the very hittable pitch he was thrown and deposited it into the left field bullpen for a home run. Later in the game he came to bat with another runner on and doubled, Mariner pitchers apparently being unable to parse blatant object lessons.

Jarrod Washburn was doing pretty well so far this season: he'd managed to win more games than he lost while sporting a very good earned run average for the most part by throwing strikes and letting hitters get themselves out. By coincidence, Jarrod Washburn had also been facing some baseball teams with pretty poor lineups. But throwing hittable pitches to batters who are good at hitting hittable pitches is highly likely to eventually result in bad outcomes. Similarly, when the Mariners tried to always take that extra base, it worked some of the time, and some of the time the ball wasn't hit far enough or they were facing a team with canon-armed outfielders and they just ran themselves into outs. As for their "aggressive" approach to hitting, when the Mariners face pitchers who tend to throw strikes early in the count, they tend to do pretty well. When they face pitchers who aren't as good, who have trouble hitting the strike zone with regularity, they tend to do poorly--they frequently get absolutely stymied by pitchers who have just come up from AAA, going up hacking at the first pitch that looks hittable instead of letting the pitcher get himself into trouble by walking batters and running up his pitch count...sounds a little bit familiar, doesn't it? Seems like there's some sort of object lesson there.

You Knew (Him) Better The First Time You Met Him

You knew him better the first time you met him.
The first sight of his face and you recognized him instantly.
And when you first heard it, the sound and timbre of his voice,
Though not exactly what you expected,
Was exactly what you expected.

But then you meet a lot of people, and there isn't space in your brain
To store that first image of everyone
(and anyhow you could never have held onto that one perfect moment of knowing).
So to save space you took the aspects of him
That were sort of like the aspects of all the other people you meet
(who themselves weren't quite like that either),
And made yourself a model of him to hold on to.

The next time you saw him, you noticed he had a crooked tooth,
And that the cut of his hair didn't quite match the person you had modeled,
(and maybe he laughed a little too loudly and awkwardly).
And you thought, "oh, well he doesn't quite fit into my model of him,"
But you needed the model in order to hold on to him (and everyone else),
And so the thought became, "Oh, well. He doesn't quite fit."

And that would have been that,
That years went by
And you were lucky enough to forget him.

And that next time your old model was long since lost
And you had again that one perfect instant of recognition,
The one you couldn't hold on to,
That you held on to just a little bit longer this time,
Long enough to realize that you knew him better the first time you met him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I took a flight home; it was yesterday, across the country East to West, brief stopover in Denver. They show this "The Amalgamated Air Freight and Passenger Network" on the little view screens in addition to, or in lieu of on shorter flights, the movie (for a definition of "Amalgamated Air Freight and Passenger" that's approximately equivalent to, "an airline I flew yesterday that I don't feel like naming"). Within this particular collection of programs, they were showing a small collection of truly bizarre 30-second commercials you'd never see on television. You've seen them on flights: The International Organization of Gemologists. Tourism Greece. Time Share Villas in Place You Have Never Been But Looks Kind Of Chic And Old World. And one for the C.I.A. I'm watching this particular ad, and I'm thinking, "Why, now that you mention it, yes...I am a patriotic American and I do want to serve my country in the clandestine a minute..."

Something happens to you when you fly. This American Life once did a show about how people cried at incredibly trite movies they saw on airplanes. A recent article in Slate examined the types of things that get sold in the Skymall and tied it in with some twinge in the ancient corners of the evolutionary brain:
[O]ne is aware of how absurd it is to be suspended eight miles high in a metal container, only some poorly understood laws of physics keeping you from plunging abruptly to certain death. In some still-not-entirely assimilated region of the limbic brain, one's time is about to run out every second, thus the attraction of all those devices that somehow contain time, tame time, break time down into tiny dials within dials....
This totally happens to me. I don't know if it's the lessons of the world learned by my ancient ancestors of pre-history that makes me suddenly inspired by a call to duty from the C.I.A. when, in fact, I loathe the C.I.A. and everything it stands for, I have been the least patriotic person in America ever since the word "patriotic" was redefined to mean, "agrees with the policies of George W. Bush," and the first two things I think are wrong with the world are 1) Capitalism, and, 2) The C.I.A. Clearly the spooks have done extensive market research to determine where best to place their ads, because if I am suggestible to the siren song of covert ops at 35,000 feet, then everyone is.

In addition to crying at stupid things, thinking while flying makes me believe insane things are possible, such as if I could just figure out how to make myself blog every day, that I could grow an audience that wanted to read my musings on music, technology, and philosophy. It makes me think how I started posting songs on MacIdol, and 500 people I've never even met listened to them, and some of them even seemed to like them, and how I quite enjoyed that. I thought, what if I could get 5000 people to listen? If that, what if I could get 50,000? Like I said, crazy shit.

Next: Crazy Shit!

OaO Vocabularity Of The Day™*

Godwin's Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

*"Vocabularity Of The Day" is not actually trademarked in any way.

far and away

this is going to sound stupid, but air travel is pretty medieval. not literally of course. literally, if you'd told someone in the middle ages that soon enough people would get into huge phallic metal boxes with wings and 200 plus other people and thus be able to travel 3000 miles in a mere eleven hours, that middle ages person would have been mighty impressed.

but this is the future as t.g. pointed out sunday when we were video chatting with our six week old nephew for whom that will be totally normal. so the yelled at by crazy woman in security, ban on drinking water nevermind hand lotion nevermind cup of yogurt, take everything out of your bag, disrobe entirely, not making anyone feel or be safer fiasco that is the airport, followed by the very teeny spaces, we are going to charge you fifty bucks for that exit row, we are going to feed you six mini pretzels in five hours, and please don't even fantasize about being able to pick up that pencil you just dropped because it ain't gonna happen that is flying, followed by the waiting for an hour after just to find out that they didn't bring your luggage then waiting in line to tell them about how they didn't bring your luggage then being promised it will be there by 3:00 the next day then 5:00 then 6:30, nevermind your dinner reservations, and no one ever saying wow we're sorry we lost your luggage, well that's crap travel. medieval. our children (or maybe theirs or maybe theirs) will consider these tales with the horror with which i regard lack of indoor plumbing, no central heat, and most aspects of medieval life.

in the vast expanse of human history, this tale of woe is going to be our hallmark i think. our lives are marked in so many ways by being so far away from so many of the people we love so much. can you imagine that that wouldn't be totally formative? so many of the people we love are somewhere else all the time! how can we survive with so much love somewhere else? in the middle ages, very few people had this problem because they didn't love people far away. folks mostly stayed put and loved people nearby. soon enough we'll have, i don't know, bullet trains, teleportation, a pod system...something. how far from video chatting can that possibly be? so really, it's only this time and this place -- this blip -- with all this far away love. and it's unacceptable to me. un-ac-ceptable. physicists: no one even cares about string theory. where's the teleporting?

meantime, some of you -- and you know who you are -- really need to move to seattle. or invent teleportation. or buy an iteleporter. or an ipodsystem. but not that kind.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Super Pop-tastic

"Albert Einstein," my father-in-law is fond of saying, "Would have given his left nut for a pocket calculator that could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and take square roots." Forced into using pencil, paper, and a slide rule, the technologically penurious fellow could only manage to, you know, utterly revolutionize physics. On the other side of the coin, I have a pocket calculator that possesses somewhat more computing power than the guidance system that landed the lunar module in the Sea of Tranquility, and yet it hasn't enabled me to revolutionize physics. As you might guess, I miss a lot of the points that my father-in-law tries to make.

In this case, though, I believe that the point he's trying to make is something like, "Technology, dude. Holy. Living. Crap." This struck me a couple of days back while using a piece of software that the Apple Computer Corporation gives away for free when you buy one of their computers, merely the raw editing capabilities of which Phil Spector would have given his left nut for in 1965 (insert current-events-related Phil Spector joke here. Myself, I've nothing). In spite of the fact that my profession and my main hobby are pretty heavily tied up in it, I'm not usually one to get moony over technology. But I never stop being amazed at the fact that I live in a time in which there exists a common household appliance into which one can plug ones guitar and, some time later, a finished album pops out.

Garageband won't make me the Beatles, but then the Beatles couldn't create a symphony orchestra and an "ahh" singing choir, mix them together under a song they'd already recorded, have a drifting pan from left to right and then flange the whole thing...okay, fine, they could and did do that. But they couldn't do it in their basement. My point is this: fuck the fucking Beatles. Also that there's a new song up. As you were.

Next: Technology: Do you own enough?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Axiom of Choice

My first website, something like "", hosted a little set of puzzles called "The Math For Poets" page. It had graphics drawn in pencil and scanned in, and one of those moire-ish blue repeating backgrounds that was popular in 1996. Between the VAX server that hosted it and the general bandwidth of the universe back then, you would be lucky if it only took a minute for a page to load. How sweet and innocent we were then.

One of the exhibits on the Math For Poets site was about the Axiom Of Choice, presenting Bertrand Russel's explication thereof in puzzle form. It went (not really at all) as follows:

You are born on earth and live to a ripe old age but along the way choose the wrong religion and end up in hell (sorry about that). You are assigned to the Lord High Asmodai's Scrum team, and he resources you to the "Sock Sorting" line from the task list. He takes you to a room where there are infinity pairs of socks. He says to you, "We need to designate a new collection of socks, and this collection must contain exactly one sock from each pair in this room." He then gives you a collection of supertask performing daemons and instructs you that all you have to do is tell them which sock to take from each pair and they will create the new set of socks. "Huh, that doesn't seem so bad," you think. You go to the first pair of socks and point to one of the socks, and the daemons instantly grab it and pull it into the new pile. Then you go to the second pair and point to a sock, and instantly the daemons grab it. Then you go to the third pair, then the fourth pair, then the fifth, then you note again that there are infinity pairs of socks, and a sinking realization begins to claw at you. You refer back to the task list and note that the "Sock Sorting" line item has been budgeted at "infinity man-hours". You become desperate. In an effort to halve the development time, you try pointing to socks from two different pairs at once. While the daemons are able to add the socks from two piles to the new pile exactly as fast as they can add one (that is, instantly), you soon realize that infinity man-hours divided by two is still infinity man-hours. Lying on the floor and pointing to socks with your feet and hands at the same time has the same, null, effect. Even the Agile Business Methodology cannot help you. You go to your Stand-Up Meeting every morning, reporting that yesterday you sorted socks, today you will be sorting socks, there are no blocking issues, and your Scrum task has infinity hours remaining. This is how you spend eternity.

I, being a godless heathen, also wind up in hell where I am assigned to your Scrum team. The Lord High Asmodai, or "The Big L.H." as I like to call him, assigns me the "Shoe Sorting" line item from the task list. I note with trepidation that it, too, is budgeted for infinity man-hours. And indeed, my task is virtually the same. I am assigned a set of supertask-performing daemons and am told that I must create a new collection of shoes by selecting a shoe from each one of infinity pairs of shoes. Immediately I am broken and devoid of all hope, for I have seen you at Scrum each morning, reporting that your progress on the Sock Sorting task has gone from infinity hours to infinity hours, suffering the humiliation as Big L.H. publicly berates you for your lack of progress and threatens to stick you with a "Not Achieving" rating for the next review period. I walk into my room filed with infinity pairs of shoes, my supertask daemons in tow. I stare at the infinity pairs of shoes. The daemons hover nearby, awaiting their first instruction. Then, suddenly a thought occurs to me. I turn to the daemons. "Create a new pile of shoes," I say, "by taking the left shoe from each pair." In a flash of supertasking, the daemons create a new pile made up of infinity left shoes, and my once seemingly Sisyphean task is instantly completed. The Scrum burn-down chart drops below the red line for the first time in thirteen billion years. The Lord High tells me he likes my bias for action and my ability to self-manage to project actualization. Then we do lunch.

Next: What the hell was that all about?